For Immediate Release: September 20, 2010

Over 215,000 Policyholders to Receive BCBSNC Refunds Totaling $155.8 Million

Insurance Commissioner Goodwin and Blue Cross announce policyholder refunds and lower-than-requested rate adjustments

RALEIGH -- Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina President and CEO Brad Wilson today announced a decision on individual policyholder rates for BCBSNC customers and a unique, one-time refund that will return $155.8 million to more than 215,000 individual BCBSNC customers as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

The refunds will be issued by the end of the year to policyholders who had Blue Advantage or Blue Options HSA for Individuals policies in force as of March 23, 2010, the date the federal law was enacted. Refunds will be proportional to premiums paid and will be equivalent to more than 1.5 months of premiums. Customers may receive lower or higher amounts depending on their specific premium rates. For example, for an average policyholder's monthly premium of about $380, the refund would be approximately $690.

"I'm pleased that the Department and Blue Cross were able to identify a way for $155.8 million to go back into consumers' wallets," said Commissioner Goodwin. "I'm also glad that we were able to negotiate a lower-than-requested rate adjustment that will save $14.5 million in future premiums for policyholders."

"Our customers are our top priority and we've created a real win for them," said Wilson. "Our policyholders can expect to receive refund checks from us by the end of the year."

The new rating and grandfathering rules in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act create a one-time circumstance enabling these refunds. The funds come from active life reserves, which are portions of the premium set aside in the early years of a policy to pay future claims and keep rates stable as customers' medical expenses rise during the life of the policy. However, policies purchased or substantially modified after March 23 of this year will end in 2014 under the new health care reform law, which is when the new products under health reform will be introduced. Therefore, the reserves held for these products will cover a much shorter period of time, allowing for these funds to be released.

The Department of Insurance also approved rate adjustments to BCBSNC's Blue Advantage and Blue Options HSA for Individuals products. In August, BCBSNC requested a 6.97 percent increase for Blue Advantage policies; the Department approved a 5.37 percent increase, which will save policyholders $14.5 million. This is the lowest Blue Advantage rate increase in four years. The Department also approved BCBSNC's requested 2.06 percent rate increase for Blue Options HSA for Individuals, which continues a trend of low increases for this product.

--NCDOI--